Good news for landowners...
Important new laws from October 2013 allow landowners to take a proactive step to protect land and avoid claims for village green status.
Applications seeking to designate private land as a village green, have been on the rise partly due to the Government's push to release more rural land for house building. In a positive step for landowners, the new rules provide a fairly straightforward legal process that allows landowners to 'deposit a statement' with the local authority for the land, whereas previously the only way to protect the land may have been to fence it or erect costly signage.
Public Rights of Way
A similar law has been around since the 1980s that allowed a landowner to formalise a right of way across a stretch of land and in so doing, prevent new rights of way being claimed. The new law continues this right for landowners, but simplifies the process and also extends the protection period from 10 to 20 years.
Too good to be true?
Unfortunately, there is a downside. By depositing a statement to protect the land or right of way, the landowner risks inadvertently prompting other interested parties (such as local anti-building campaigners) to oppose the statement and stake a claim themselves. The Local Authority is obliged to publicise any statement and allow a 60 day notice period. If opposing parties can show that land has been used for recreational purposes for over 20 years, then the landowner risks local residents being encouraged to pursue an application themselves
This risk must of course be balanced against the risk of doing nothing, and hoping that no application is ever made.
For more information or to discuss the options for landowners, please contact Verity Gawthorp (0113 204 5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org).